Monday, April 13, 2009

From Portland to Palm Springs along Highway 99 - Day 2

Day 2 of our Portland to Palm Springs road trip is in the books and we're calling it a success as we had a blast driving along some of our favorite sections of Highway 99 as well as a few sections that were new to us. It's always interesting to discover something that's been waiting for you, in some cases, for over 60 years!

The drive today covers Mt. Shasta through Lodi - only about 275 miles, but by the time we calculate all of the u-turns and numerous trips back and forth across each town we probably covered closer to 400 miles. We're pretty sure we lapped Lodi at least three times.

Last night we mentioned we stayed close to a spot rumored to be the site of a Bigfoot didn't think we'd just leave it at that, did you? Below is our best evidence to date - camera shy, but, oh, so handsome.

After heading out this morning, the first place we stopped was a building we've missed every time we've driven this short section of Highway 99. The Mt. Shasta Richfield station was built in 1930 and was one of eight Richfield stations built in the state - although the only one built in this style. Richfield hoped to corner the market on both automotive and airplane fueling, hence the 125' tower to attract aircraft. The station operated until 1964 and now serves as a private residence.

Next up was a stop at one of our favorite Highway 99 towns: Dunsmuir. The town of Dunsmuir (or Pusher as it was originally named, albeit for one year only) was established on Monday, August 23rd, 1886 when the Southern Pacific Railroad reached Cedar Flat (later Nutglade - the current Dunsmuir south yard), and opened the station of Dunsmuir in a box car.

The commercial district, which is roughly bounded by Sacramento and Shasta Aves., Spruce and Cedar Sts. (both sides), is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Our favorite place in Dunsmuir is the Cave Springs Resort on old Highway 99 (current day I-5 Business Loop.) We'd love to show you a photo, however we've been bested yet again by sunlight shining directly into the camera as we try to photograph the resort. If only they could move it across the street!

Cave Springs was opened in 1923 by Clint and Ida May Brown and operated under the name of Brown's Auto Camp. In 1925 the first six cabins and a few tent platforms were built along the river. A store and a home were built next to the highway where the pool is now. The year 1926 brought more cabins at the top of the hill, and in 1929 the Brown's granted some land to the state to expand the highway in front of their place. By now the Brown's were calling their business Brown's Auto Park which would later be changed to Brown's Modern Motor Lodge and finally in 1952 the Cave Springs Resort.

Just down the road from Cave Springs sits the closed Corral Cafe with a fantastic cocktail sign mounted on one of its stone chimneys.

We understand that the Dunsmuir Visitor's Center has recently re-opened and hopes to highlight the importance of historic preservation in the community. We wish them the best of luck!

Following Dunsmuir, our next stop was Redding. We came into town on old Highway 99 (now Highway 273), and were greeted by this amazing sign above Lim's Cafe.

This approach also gave us a chance to stop and take a look at a place we comment on every time we pass by. The business sits along a frontage road with no clear access from I-5 and we were thrilled to crack the riddle of how to get there. We're happy to report that numerous guests were enjoying a round of golf today.

Designated a National Trust Main Street in 2006, downtown Redding has an eclectic and well-preserved collection of buldings. From the Streamline Moderne fire station to the Art Deco Cascade Theatre, there's something for fans of every almost every architectural style.

Preservation Note: Developed in the 1970s by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Main Street program emphasizes how an architecturally interesting, pedestrian friendly, locally owned business district supported by the community is sound economics.

We've visited a number of these Main Street towns across the Southwest and can attest to the success of the National Trust's common sense approach.

Now, back to the Cascade Theatre. According to the Cascade's website, the theatre was "constructed in 1935 as a 1,348-seat movie palace and vaudeville stage. One of the few theatres built during the heart of the depression, the Cascade Theatre was a magnificent example of art deco architecture in California, complete wiht gold and silver gilded walls, period chandeliers, ornate plasterwok, a grand neon facade and marquee and beautiful murals. "

Even with all this beauty, the Cascade was unable to compete with new mall-based cinemas and closed its doors in the late 1990s after years of declining ticket sales.

An enormous preservation effort led by the the Cascade Theatre Restoration Steering Committee and Southern Oregon University's public radio network saved the Cascade for future generations - and road trippers like us - allowing the beautifully restored theatre to reopen in August 2004.

The Cascade Theatre has the triple honor of being on the National Register of Historic Places, the California Registry of Historic Resources, and a recipient of an Art Deco Society of California Preservation Award.

Just a couple of blocks away from the Cascade is a fun stretch of Highway 99 with a couple of outstanding 1950s and 60s era motel signs. We can't fit all the photos in this blog, but here's a great example of why tracking down the path of old highways can be so much fun.

After Redding, we headed down to Red Bluff to visit another impressive community project focused on preserving a town's architectural heritage: the Cone-Kimball Clocktower.

Destroyed by fire in 1984, the community (led by the Red Bluff Rotary Foundation) was successful in raising grant monies and donations to rebuild what we've learned is referred to as the "heart of Red Bluff." In a neat twist of history, the tower's groundbreaking was held on April 30, 2005 - the 21st anniversary of the fire that destroyed the original structure.

One thing we forgot to show you yesterday were these handy Historic 99 signs. Although spaced somewhat few and far between, they've definitely tended to show up just when we need them.

Thanks go out to Assemblyman Statham for introducing ACR 19 in Feburary 1993, a measure that highlighted the importance of recognizing the significance of US 99 to the history of California.

With our light fading, we decided to wrap up the day's photos in Lodi. Along a stretch of Highway 99 now known as Cherokee Lane, we found this remnant of the highway's glory days:

And finally, we'd read that the Welcome Arch in Lodi was something special and not to be missed. Trying not to break the speed limit or endanger any pedestrians, there was much cheering in the car as we made it just in time for this sunset photo showing some of the arch's detail.

And about five minutes later looking east.

Tomorrow will be another big day as we look to cover another 250 miles or so, searching for more great sights and preservation stories from Stockton to Bakersfield and points in between. Hope you'll join in!

Jeff & Kelly
Vintage Roadside


Rick Kilby said...

The Lodi arch shot is art!

Atomic Lola said...

I'm so glad you tweeted about your blog. I didn't realize it was here and it's like a little taste of vintage in my feed reader that I will look forward to! Love your pics!

Citroendork said...

Casacde Theatre is Beautiful! I love the Lodi Arch Shot.
I hope the Windmill hole at Mini Golf didn't set the trip time back much!

Unknown said...

Spending my high school years in the Red Bluff area, it is neat as an adult to see the architectural detail that as a teenager, you just don't pay attention to.

Did you happen to stop by Pollardville?

Vintage Roadside said...

Thanks Rick! Sometimes the wait pays off.

Atomic Lola - Thanks for the kind words, we appreciate it! So glad you've enjoyed following along.

Austin - No time for a round, but we got that on the list for the trip home. Glad you enjoyed the photos.

Frater - Thanks for the great comment. We've got places like that ourselves.

We didn't stop by Pollardville this time by. The last time we were there was after the auction, and about the only thing left were the buildings. We were afraid to see what was left. It's just not the same without the rooster on the tower out front. We'll take a look on the way home.

Debra Jane Seltzer (aka agilitynut) said...

I'm no expert on these Richfield beacon stations - but there is another one of this style in Grants Pass, OR now housing the Lantern Tavern & Cafe. Some additions in front but you can see the structure is basically the shame (tower removed 1940). The adress is 2030 NW Vine St. Another one in Eugene, OR is now being used as a residence.

C Freedom said...

Debra, the one second one is actually in Junction City, on River Road, (which was the old Hwy 99) It is currently an Event center and not being lived in. I actually lived in that house from 4th grade through college! It is a GREAT house much larger than the other two I have found!
Anyone with more information on the Beacon Houses please contact me at I would love to find if there are others still standing
right now I know of
Grants Pass, now The Beacon
Junction City "The Beacon House" and Mt Shasta which seems to be some Radio station or repeater for a talk station

C Freedom said...

Actually the Eugene one is in Junction City. It is an Event Center.

It was a private residence for many years as that is where I lived from 4th grade through college.

Currently I know of the Three
the Beacon Grants Pass Restraunt/Bar
the Beacon House Junction City Event Center and Mt Shasta which is a radio station.

If anyone knows of any others I would love to find out about them

Conn Witt said...

Lodi is nearby. It was especially nice 50 years ago, but it still is special.